WILL Sues WEC Over Illegal Use of Voter Registration Form

WEC-approved form asks for information on race and political party while failing to request statutorily-required items like presence of felony conviction

The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) on behalf of Rick Braun, a registered Wisconsin voter and taxpayer, in regards to the illegal use of the National Mail Voter Registration Form (“the Form”).

The lawsuit, filed in the Waukesha County Circuit Court, urges the court to declare that the use of this voter registration form in Wisconsin is illegal and orders WEC to withdraw its approval of the Form. The Form adds extra criteria not authorized by statute or rule while simultaneously failing to include all items mandated by Wisconsin statute (Wis. Stat. § 6.33(1)).

The Quote: WILL Deputy Counsel, Anthony LoCoco, said, “Wisconsin law is abundantly clear on the required content of voter registration forms in Wisconsin, yet WEC has somehow approved the use of a form that fails to meet those requirements.  It is a shame that, once again, a voter has to go to court simply to ensure that WEC follows the Legislature’s lawful commands.”

BackgroundWEC’s Election Manual states that the Form is approved for voter registration in Wisconsin. While most states accept the Form, made available by the United States Election Assistance Commission, Wisconsin is not required to allow the form to be used in this State; and, the Form does not request information required by state law—such as information relating to residency and criminal record, among others. Additionally, because the Form requests information- relating to race and political party- not authorized by state statute, WEC must engage in rulemaking before approving these additional items. Unfortunately, WEC has both approved the legally insufficient Form and allowed the additional items without engaging in rulemaking.

The Lawsuit: WILL sent a letter back in July 2022, warning WEC of the Form’s illegal use in the state. Because the history of WEC’s approval of the voter registration form was unclear, WILL requested additional information relating to the process by which that approval occurred. To date, WEC has not identified when or by whom the Form was approved for use in Wisconsin.

The lawsuit alleges that WEC failed to comply with statutory requirements relating to required voter registration form content and violated rulemaking requirements by approving the Form without following the appropriate process.  The suit argues that use of the Form hinders uniformity and predictability around the administration of elections, and increases the risk of error.

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Anthony Lococo

Anthony Lococo

Deputy Counsel

alococo@will-law.org

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